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Neurosci Lett. 2005 Jul 1-8;382(1-2):124-7. Epub 2005 Mar 25.

Urocortin stimulates tyrosine hydroxylase activity via the cAMP/protein kinase a pathway in rat Pheochromocytoma PC12 cells.

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Department of Clinical Pathology, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennoudai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8575, Japan.


Urocortin is a novel mammalian member of the corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF)-related peptides. We have investigated the expression, mechanism of action and second messenger for urocortin in rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells. We initially confirmed the expression of urocortin and CRF-R2beta, which is thought to be an endogenous receptor for urocortin, in PC12 cells. We also demonstrate that urocortin (> or = 1 nM) significantly elevates the level of cAMP in these cells. Moreover, alpha-helical CRF-(9-41), a more specific antagonist of CRF-R2 than CRF-R1 and the adenylate cyclase inhibitor SQ22536, inhibited the urocortin-induced increase in the level of cAMP. Thus, urocortin may exert its physiological role in chromaffin cells via CRF-R2beta coupling to adenylate cyclase. Urocortin (> or = 1 nM) significantly increased the mRNA level and activity of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of catecholamine. Furthermore, urocortin-induced changes in TH-mRNA and activity were inhibited by H89 (a PKA inhibitor) and SQ22536 as well as alpha-helical CRF-(9-41). However, urocortin did not affect DNA synthesis or catecholamine secretion in these cells. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that urocortin stimulates catecholamine biosynthesis via the cAMP/protein kinase A pathway in PC12 cells, where both urocortin and its receptor, CRF-R2, are expressed.

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